Every now and then I find a game that is entirely mediocre in every way, and I have a hard time with my overall recommendation of it. Papo & Yo fits squarely into this category – it’s never bad, but it’s never more than simply okay either.
For positives, I can easily say that Papo & Yo is a very pleasing game, visually. You spend the majority of your game time in a favela in Brazil, solving Alice in Wonderland-esque puzzles with floating platforms and clever mechanics which change your landscape in interesting ways. It doesn’t take very long to progress through, and feels mostly tight with controls and camera movements.
However, there seems to be just a layer of polish in all aspects that prevents this game from being better than average. The animations are choppy, and some game mechanics, such as jumping puzzles, may not feel as accurate as other platforming games.
The story is my main dividing point. Although the narrative is essentially a very dark memoir, everything that you really need to know about the tale is shown to you up front. When the curtains are pulled back for a big reveal, you are basically shown what you’ve known since booting up the game – the monster is your father, and the poisonous frogs that put him into an uncontrollable rage are bottles of alcohol. It almost seemed odd that they decided to spend so much time at the end of the game devoted to showing you this, as that is the outset of the game.
To be fair, Papo & Yo has its heart in the right place, it just could have used a little more time to shine up what’s already there. However, this game is entirely skippable. Not recommended, unless you can find it as part of a package deal or it’s on a steep sale.